Merry Christmas everyone!
This week has been really great! The last couple of weeks, really, since I didn't send anything out last week. My bad.
This week saw a baptism, a new transfer, and of course the rapid approach of Christmas! I still can't believe it's Christmas Eve!
This week I said goodbye to many missionary friends who left to be home right now as the greatest Christmas present that their families could ever ask for. Elder Berrett, Elder Ochoa, Sister Smith, and my beloved trainer Elder Sansom: shout out to you guys for an amazing beginning to this mission for me. I've already learned so much!
On Tuesday I welcomed my new companion Elder Hansen to Passaic. He's currently fasting from speaking English for 40 days in order to learn Spanish better. Day one was the day he arrived in Passaic. He's a great guy. He's constantly hustling, and brought a massive amount of food and cooking supplies so we can eat well when we're not making calls, talking to people on the street, and knocking doors (usually at the same time). He's from Bountiful Utah, and came straight out of high school despite having been accepted to MIT.
Todays email is called "Signs" for a couple of reasons. The baptism that we had last week was for a boy whose mother is deaf, and so we've been working through an interpreter in order to let her be involved in the lessons so she can help him continue to learn at home. He was confirmed yesterday, and we've had a great time getting to know him and his family and learning a little bit of ASL ourselves!
The other reason is for the spiritual thought. When we were teaching messages for Christmas, we would share this passage from Matthew:
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
We talked about how prophets came from other lands to see the baby Jesus. We also talked about how the star in the sky was a sign of his birth and guided them. Then, we read from 3 Nephi 1:
20 And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.
21 And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.
We explain that not only were there prophets in the Americas with the Nephites, they too saw the star in the sky as a sign of Christ's birth. It's amazing to me to think that even though they were on completely different sides of the world, that star was a sign of hope and joy for so many different people.
I encourage us all to look for the signs in our lives from our Heavenly Father this Christmas season. On my mission I've learned that he guides us almost everywhere we go as long as we let him. Big or small, these signs will help us achieve happiness and peace if we heed their messages.
For your entertainment, and to illustrate that sometimes following the signs of men is dangerous (as opposed to those from God), here are some funny signs that I've seen here in Passaic attached as photos. One of them is incorrect in two different languages, which is impressive.
Merry Christmas all! I look forward to talking to you again on the 31st.